Or “Why I Will Probably Always Be a ‘C-List’ Blogger.”
I’ve been ruminating on this post for a few days now. I noted with interest Michael’s post about blog statistics and blogger status; partially because I deal with blog statistics regularly at work, and partically because I’ve been every-so-slightly curious the statistics of the “über bloggers.” You know, the big boys and girls whose hits, page views and visit reach in the the stratosphere. Funny how, despite the notion that blogging is a force for democracy, putting the power to publish in the hands of the people, there still seems to be so little room at the “top.”
I was particularly intrigued by this chart, which Michael got from David Pollard.
If I’m reading it correctly, the statistics for this blog put me squarely in the “C-List” category.
Statistics are funny things. Essentially, they’re a bunch of fairly meaningless numbers, until someone sorts through them and interprets them. Not being math oriented in slightest, I have to admit that statistics are far from my favorite stuff to deal with, and at most I glance at the stats for this blog only occasionally, usually to see who’s among the top referrers and what posts seem to be getting the most attention.
Dave’s chart throws me a bit because it focuses on hits. My experience has taught me that, when it comes to blog statistics, hits are virtually worthless in determining how many human beings actually visit your blog, and hang out a while. A good many of them come from search engines, and don’t represent much more than how often your blog comes up in someone’s search results (but not whether they “clicked-thru” to your blog or an individual post.) However, Pollard clarifies things in one way that makes sense and has some value to me when considering blog statistics.
But what’s the real competition out there? Extrapolating some work I did last year, only about 20,000 blogs (a mere 0.4% of all active blogs) have a sizeable audience (more than 10 regular visitors and more than 150 hits per average day), and readership in a typical day is only a little more than three million people, each spending an average of about 20 minutes flitting among 15 blog pages.
…If you’re an average A-list blogger (those getting at least 15,000 hits per day), your 150,000 40-second visitors in aggregate are spending 1700 hours per day reading and commenting on your blog. The average B-list blogger (those getting at least 1,000 hits per day) is getting 62 hours per day of 90-second-per-visit aggregate reader attention, the average C-list (150-1,000 hits-per-day) blogger 13 hours per day of aggregate reader attention, and the average up-and-coming (50-150 hits-per-day) blogger 2.5 hours per day. These are not staggering numbers, but certainly an encouraging return on time invested in writing.
Pollard later wrote another post clearing up some issues from the previous post, featuring chart that takes visits and page views into consideration.
Putting the emphasis on visits or actual readers makes a lot more sense to me than paying any attention to hits. Looking at page views, or how many times individual pages (in this case, individual blog posts) were requests from the servers, also gives a clearer view of actual blog stats and readership, or at least what people are reading.
Tracking statistics for this blog is a bit tricky, because I didn’t really track things closely when it was on Typepad, and because of changing servers, but looking over the statistics for even the last few months shows some interesting results. Since December, when I switched to my current server, this blog has had as many as 1,158 visitors in one day, and a few as 9. Page views range from as many as 1, 913 page views in one day, as few as 83. Generally, this blog gets about 300 to 500 visitors per day. Average page views per day are just over 2,000.
But along with that, you have to figure in RSS readers. Since I publish my full posts in my feed, chances are a lot of people view the feed without ever clicking-thru to the blog itself. But they’re still readers. Last month my RSS readers ranged from 95 to 72 subscribers on any given day. So, there are nearly 100 people accessing the feed. Add those to the readers and there are about 400 to 600 on any given day.
If you bring inbound links into the bargain, according to Technorati there are currently 286. Discounting however many of those links are actually a result of linking to my own posts, the total is probably close to 200.
So what does it all add up to?
I’m really not entirely sure, but given that there are—according to Pollard— of the 5 million or so blogs out there, only 18,000 even make the “C-List” category. And the non-“A-List” blogs may actually be better at reaching people.
I confirmed the statistic I had read elsewhere, that the average reader hangs around for under 90 seconds per page view. But a quick look at some A-list bloggers showed their average readers hang around for only 40 seconds per page view. So last night I dug into the SiteMeter data in a little more detail. I discovered that the attention deficit I had noted for A-listers is even worse than I thought: There is an inverse relationship among A-listers between number of page views and average time spent per page view.
I admit some envy of the “A-list”; tens to hundreds of thousands of readers, hundreds of comments per post, money from advertising, multiple interviews in “mainstream media,” and a certain kind of celebrity status. As with the extremely succesful in any other field, some of the A-listers—or, as I call them, the “über bloggers”—are people who started blogging early on in the trend, and caught on with readers early. Once you attain that status, people will read you because you’ve attained that status; like people read the New York Times because there “supposed to.” Then there are those who attain A-list status because of some event that catapults them into the spotlight. If they manage, through their blogging, to maintain the new readers their noteriety brings them, they remain on the list.
There’s also what I call “the link effect.” Bloggers, myself included, tend to link to the blogs that they read or—like people who buy certain books just to have them on the shelf—that they want people to think they read. So if any of an A-list bloggers tens to hundreds of thousands of readers are also blogger who link to his or her blog, then he or she will have a higher rate of incoming links, whether they add up to people who actually read the blog or not.
Of course, I don’t know what’s on the other side of the A-list coin. I’m reminded of a wise friend of mine who reminded me not to spend too much time envying others because as she would say, paraphrasing a quote from the bible, “you don’t know what’s in that cup.” In that cup may be everything from pressure to produce to becoming a target of criticism from bloggers and others. (You might also call it the “tallest poppy syndrome.”) There are probably any number of things “in that cup” that I don’t know about, and that might cause me to let that cup pass from me if I knew.
So, I’m a C-list blogger. Ony any given day, 300 to 500 people check in to see what I have to say or what’s going on in my life. That, in and of itself, is kinda impressive if you ask me. I’ve never won an award for blogging, though I’ve been nominated once, and chances are I probably never will given the size of the field. I’ve been picked up by a couple of news services, interviewed by one journalist (though my space in the interview added up to one sentence, probaby to make more column space for the “bigger” bloggers), and even got a regular column spot in a regional gay & lesbian newspaper because of my blogging. Then of course, there’s the reality that my blogging helped me get my current job.
So, the major media isn’t beating a path to my door, and I’ll probably never be able to make a living off of advertising on this blog. Still, I think I’ve done pretty well for a guy who doesn’t have any particular credentials, and who isn’t an expert in anything in particular.
When I started this blog, my main goals were simply to use it as an outlet for writing, and to hopefully reach a few people. In the context of those goals, I think I’ve done pretty well here, even if the world—or advertisers, and a few hundred thousand readers—has yet to beat a bath to my door.
So, I’m a C-List blogger, and probably always will be—barring some event that launches me in to fame or infamy—and that’s OK. After all, I’ve never been any A-lists before anyway.